The United Nations steered conversations this week, with a study and a conference serving as focal points for ongoing problems with global consequences. In the words of Winston Churchill: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

  • Cities, brands and nonprofits stepped up for Hunger Action Month.
  • A pair of conferences drew attention to sustainability policies.

Combating Insecurity

With global food insecurity outpacing the United Nation’s (UN’s) efforts to reduce hunger by 2030, companies and individuals are doing their part to help get it back on the right path during Hunger Action Month.

  • The UN reported that there are 745 million more hungry people in the world today compared with 2015, with COVID-19, climate change and armed conflicts impacting global food security.
  • September is Hunger Action Month, a nationwide campaign in the U.S. aimed at raising awareness about hunger. Feeding America provided resources. 
  • Progressive Grocer shared that Publix is introducing mobile food pantries as part of Publix Serves Week, which includes a $6 million donation to Feeding America and volunteer efforts by Publix team members to combat hunger.
  • This back-to-school season, restaurants such as Arby’s, Denny’s, Jack in the Box and more are partnering with No Kid Hungry, a nationwide campaign aimed at combating childhood food insecurity (Nation’s Restaurant News). 
  • Luis Guardia, president of the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), urged Congress to support access to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in the 2024 agriculture appropriations bill.
  • A recent study from UCLA correlated geographical areas that have limited access to fresh food — known as food deserts — with longer-lasting health issues that can even impact the microstructure of the brain.
  • Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration is exploring a municipally owned grocery store in an effort to consider different ways to address food inequity in the city. If it follows through, Chicago will be the first U.S. city to own its own grocery store.

“The small steps countries offered are welcome, but they’re like trying to put out an inferno with a leaking hose.”

David Waskow, director at World Resources Institute, speaking on climate change

Emission Contrition

The UN hosted its Climate Ambition Summit on September 20, overlapping Climate Week NYC (which runs September 17-24). As a result, environmentalism was on the minds of leaders across food, beverage and agriculture production.

  • The Climate Ambition Summit focused heavily on “credibility and accountability of net-zero emissions commitments of non-state entities.”
  • To that end, the North American Meat Institute developed a tool to help meat companies estimate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. President and CEO Julie Anna Potts touted the tool as “continuous improvement in the sector and sustainability of all kinds — environmental, economic, and social.”
  • Supermarket Perimeter reported that candymaker Mars revised its emissions reduction commitment to meet UN-approved standards set by the Science Based Targets Initiative.
  • Climate Week NYC functioned as a local extension of the UN summit. The event included sessions on food supply chains, winemaking and farm tech solutions.
  • World Resources Group shared research that positioned ocean-based shipping and food production as key components for reducing GHG emissions.
  • Terminology can play a big role in how stakeholders engage. A Farm Journal survey found that farmers prefer “conservation” and “sustainable” over terms like “climate-smart” or “carbon neutral.”

Worth Reading

Insta IPO

On September 19, The New York Times recapped Instacart’s initial public offering, which met a two-year series of delays. “Instacart’s market capitalization, including all outstanding shares, totaled $11.1 billion. But even with the early stock price pop, the company’s valuation remained a far cry from the $39 billion that investors assigned it in the private market in 2021.” The company rang NASDAQ’s bell from its San Francisco offices along with “a lot of food,” according to the article. 

Safety in Processing

Hormel avoided a recall after the manufacturer worked with Texas retailer H.E.B. to get underprocessed SPAM off shelves early enough. This is interesting for a product like SPAM, which is often seen as the poster child for processed food. In a public health alert, the USDA noted, “The problem was discovered when the firm reported that they inadvertently shipped product that may not have been adequately processed to reach commercial sterility.” Next they’ll be marketing it as “uncured” …

Dirty Pitch Man

The Natural Resources Defense Council hired actor/comedian Nick Offerman for a video promoting cover crops. The NGO is pushing to have its agenda heard as Congress negotiates the 2023 Farm Bill: “Congress could support cover crops by including the COVER Act in the Farm Bill, which would incentivize farmers to plant cover crops by offering them a $5-per acre savings on their crop insurance bills. This would not only improve the health of our nation’s soil, but support biodiversity, improve water quality, and fight climate change too.” 

Knockin’ ‘Em Back

The New Republic was very quick to cover the social media controversy surrounding New York Times columnist David Brooks’ pricey meal at Newark airport. Brooks tweeted a photo of a burger, fries and a hefty tumbler of booze saying, “This meal just cost me $78 at Newark Airport. This is why Americans think the economy is terrible.” The internet paid him back dutifully, noting that his bar bill comprised the lion’s share of the bill.